Stanford University Data Glitch Exposes Truth About Scholarships

"Stanford Business School officials are admitting that for years they have given steep price breaks to preferred applicants while claiming the scholarships were only for needy students — and say they will close a glitch that allowed public access to thousands of confidential student financial aid records," The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

"A student discovered in February that the files were accessible to all business school students and employees, and informed the school about the vulnerability. He also downloaded the information and spent months studying financial aid data from 2008 to 2015. The result was a 378-page statistical analysis that revealed the difference between the school’s claim of fairly awarded scholarships and what it had actually been doing.

'All fellowships are need-based,' claims the school’s website, which was updated on Wednesday. Before then, the site included an assurance that the business school 'does not offer merit-based scholarships.'

But it does discriminate — often favoring female applicants, international students, and those with backgrounds in finance, says the report by Adam Allcock, a Stanford business school student from the United Kingdom who found and analyzed the data. The school 'represents its financial aid system to students as 'non-merit-based,' while operating it as 'merit-based' by secretly rating students and manually deciding how much (scholarship money) they should receive,' Allcock wrote in the analysis obtained by The Chronicle. He asked that the report not be shared publicly because he has returned the data to the school, which has not disputed its findings.

'Students with identical financial situations receive vastly different (scholarship) awards' despite being told that their grant is calculated solely on their need, says Allcock’s report. It says the school also tells applicants not to reveal to their classmates the size of their discount. Allcock concludes that the secret system harms students 'who make tangible financial decisions on the basis of these representations.'

Jonathan Levin, dean of the business school, sent an email to employees and students on November 17 and said Allcock’s report 'raises an issue we intend to address.'”

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 12/3/2017

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